My good friend Kaitlyn introduced me to the Sasek books; the interesting, informative text and quirky, fun, vintage art quickly elevated them to the “favorites” category.
She very kindly wrote this review for us:
There may come a day when Times Square is just a field, or when Venice follows Atlantis into the sea. It is sad to think about things like that when they have become near and dear to you, and the world has spun around assuming they will always be there. It makes you want to have something to hold to remind you of what it was like. And I can think of no better way to commemorate the wonderful places in the world than with the forgotten treasure of M. Sasek.
Miroslav Sasek was a Czech immigrant who traveled the world in the 1960s, and captured through illustration the sights, sounds, and smells of what he saw. What was produced was a set of books that transport you to a place you will want to return to.
In the books of the This Is… series, one can watch street performers entertaining the bus queue in London, or wear the “world’s most uncomfortable shoes” while visiting Neiman Marcus in Dallas. Eat some Haggis on a rainy day in Edinburgh, or stare down Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris. All while surrounded by art that is a combination of watercolor, doodle, and scrapbook in fun vintage colors.
The books are informational, casual, humorous, and cleverly written. Sasek wove his topics together seamlessly, just as you would see them while walking the streets, occasionally making a witty comparison, whether in writing such as in This Is New York:
“In New York fire strikes frequently — and so do people.”
Or in art. See if you can catch it in these pages taken from This Is Rome:
There is always plenty of interesting information, without being overwhelming, and tidbits of history. The books were originally published in the 1960s, but were re-published in 2007, so there are asterisks printed next to facts throughout the book, and in the back there is a small paragraph titled, “This is… Today!”, and has updated facts. (At least, as updated as 2007).
The books were meant for children, but wanderlusters of all ages will love traveling the world with Mr. M. Sasek.